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Osteoporosis of the Sea

Everyday, we would be bombarded with news of climate change - a hot topic. We all know what is going on. In a nutshell, our planet is slowly dying in the clutches of burning fossil fuels, deforestation and other factors, which results in long-term shifts in temperature and weather patterns. However, does everyone know the side-effects and by-products of Climate Change? This article will address the disregarded issue of ocean acidification, how it affects us, as humans and marine life and a few solutions.

To begin with, what even is ‘ocean acidification’? In summary, it is defined as an ongoing reduction of the pH value in oceans, due to the excessive carbon emissions that creates a chemical reaction and it also decreases carbonate ion concentration and saturation states of crucial calcium carbonate materials for marine life. It is but a result of many contributing factors, like the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. With the constant cut-down of trees, the excess of carbon dioxide will not be absorbed. Furthermore, when some trees are left to rot and burn, the carbon that makes up their organic tissue would be then released as carbon dioxide, which overall adds on to the atmosphere. Even though ocean acidification occurs naturally over an extended period of time, it never progresses this rapidly before.

Relating to the effects that ocean acidification may bring to live organisms, when sea waters are undersaturated with calcium carbonate materials, it can affect the growth and production of the skeletons and shells of some marine animals. These marine animals would then need to work harder and spend extra energy to repair damaged and corroded shells / skeletons or thicken them to fight for survival. That is the reason as to why it is referred to as the ‘osteoporosis of the sea’.

So, why does it affect humans as well? The answer is simple: we rely on the ocean’s resources for many reasons, such as transportation, food and medicines. Especially when many people eat seafood, their survival is important to us. Another resource that we desperately need a steady application for is coral reefs. They protect coastlines from storms and erosion, as well as provide more job opportunities. Over half a billion people depend on reefs for the reasons mentioned. Unfortunately, coral reefs are also victims of ocean acidification.

In light of this topic, there wouldn’t be a time where it would be downright dangerous to enter the waters, however that doesn’t mean that we should be urgent with this issue and take action, as researchers predict that oceans will continue to absorb carbon dioxide, which will then further acidify our oceans. Estimates suggest that by the end of this century, the surface waters of the ocean could reach acidity levels nearly 150% higher, which the ocean has never before experienced for the past 20 million years.

In conclusion, we really need to press this matter further and allow everyone to know what is happening to our oceans. We need to act and prevent ocean acidification from threatening marine life any further.


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